Over the last year I’ve tasked myself with reading everything Monkeybrain Comics had had to offer. Most would think of this as some sort of wade through titles that don’t quite suit my interests or reading comics that just aren’t that good. Well, that’s just not the case with Monkeybrain. The label is a seal of quality, and more than that it’s a creative playground for a lot of creators who wouldn’t get one otherwise.
It’s a fantastic place that specializes in quality comics at super affordable prices. You’ll legitimately be blown away by what Chris Roberson and Allison Baker have done with this small publishing house.
So without further adieu, I give you the ten best Monkeybrain Comics running right now. At $0.99 an issue you’d be foolish not to pick up the whole list over at http://www.monkeybraincomics.com/
WRITTEN BY: Jeremy Holt
ART BY: Francesa Ciregia
“Art Monster” follows Victor Stein, a listless art college student who has been lost in his educational institution for seven years. Through a macabre voiceover Victor ponders the question of artistic innovation. Anyone who has been to art school knows the place is filled with weird people. This strange place gathers a society pulled from different houses of inspiration. The effect can be alienating for those who don’t have it all figured out. This is a wonderfully written look into being lost in art brought to life in a dark and brooding style.
WRITTEN BY: Shawn Aldridge
ART BY: Christopher Peterson
The very first thing you’ll notice about “GoGetters” is the tongue in cheek wit. Protagonist Maya Diaz runs her mouth, but she gets the job done, and when all else fails her pet gorilla George Harrison will ensure success. Together they make the GoGetters. You need something retrieved? Hire this team and you’re bound to have a great time. It’s a Hannah Barbara cartoon with an edge. The vibrant characters are full of life as they channel this unique energy that I used to tap into with Johnny Quest. It’s a rollicking good time centered on a captivating main character and some razor sharp banter.
Brian Winkler and Robert Wilson IV’s Trevor K Trevinski bring the slacker archetype to a whole new level by offering a brilliant blend with superherodom. This is a funny and telling look at what it means to have superpowers. Any modern day person would much rather use any powers they received in a self-serving manner to make their own lives easier. But Trevor doesn’t really use them at all. He would rather stay home and chill. I get it, eating pizza and playing Xbox all day every day is practically heaven for any twenty something. A ripe bromance, a repugnant use of power, and wonderfully developed characters are all found here within a smooth dissection of what makes superhero stories great.
“Kinski” is the story of Joe, written and illustrated by Hardman the comic shows a man frustrated with his dull job looking for something to reinvigorate his life. Turns out it’s a four-month-old black lab puppy that doesn’t quite belong to him. Hardman straddles the line between doing the right thing and desperation. It’s a telling look at a righteous personal crusade. This series is magnificently brought to life by Gabriel Hardman’s artistic style. His clean bold line work adds a lot of emotion to the faces of the characters. His large panels of background and locations bring the rural setting to life. The book is steeped in a moment of stupidity, one that we all have found ourselves in. Those days or weeks that spun out of control thanks to one stupid decision, and thanks to that directed focus the book is an absolute joy to experience.
Inspired is the first word that comes to mind with Curt Pires and Dalton Ramos’ “Theremin.” Exciting, ambitious, and beautiful are some of the words that follow. This book takes a love for a man lost to history and cultivates it into something only comics can create: an epic time bending adventure. Dalton Ramos may just blow your mind with “Theremin.” His paneling is as masterful as you can get. Once Pires pulls you into the “red” he and Ramos will have you hook, line, and sinker. There is no going back. The pacing is erratically fast paced and wonky. The beginning, middle, and end of the story are delivered simultaneously to great effect. Mirroring the raw expression of what Theremin’s life is like, volatile, scattered, and pulse pounding.
This is a truly beautiful book; let’s just get that out of the way. Jeremy Holt and Tim Daniel seem to know this too, because the script constantly plays with the visuals. Nothing is quite what you suspect, and it’s a total treat. The world of “Skinned” straddles the line between utopia and dystopia. It doesn’t bother offering the answer either. The Occupye is a readymade solution to reality. Entire set design can change in a panel; clothing can disappear, and reappear in a flash. It doesn’t really offer any sort of declarative statement about its world but rather speaks through character. Each of the sentiments offered on the page hold a certain amount of weight, but ultimately the perception of the narrative is left to the reader. The important themes of perception and reality are explored to beautiful effect here by posing compelling questions, which you’re left to answer on your own.
“Headspace” takes an unconventional trip to Carpenter Cove a city located the mind of a killer. We follow Shane, the local sheriff as he battles isolation, loss, and insurmountable odds in a very surreal and insane place in the mind of a killer. You think okay; we’ll follow this normal sheriff as he slowly pieces together his situation. Lindsay wastes no time, the narrative explodes and doesn’t let up. The big “twist” isn’t even a twist; it’s a framing device for insanity and horror. Shane fights his way through the volatile headspace of Max. Max is our serial killer on the run. The narrative switches between both POV’s to fantastic effect. The concept is brilliant and executed with such skill that’ll you’ll barely find time to take a breath. The pacing is perfect and the world building is insane.
Ryan Ferrier’s “D4VE” is something everyone can relate to. Taking the familiar world of computers and technological language we take for granted to create a wonderfully comedic tale of a robot going through a mid life crisis. Society has exhausted the need for D4VE’s original programming. Stuck in a pile of sadness and failure his only escape is daydreaming about the past. The book functions as a love letter to mediocrity and science fiction. The naivety of personal destruction and the idea of recaptured glory are some of the strong themes dealt with here, yet it’s all done with a glorious sense of humor that looks at what comes after most science fiction stories. It’s glorious, mundane, and so much jobs damn fun.
Nominated for an Eisner you say? Brilliant and new you say? Holy hell Christopher Sebela makes it look easy as he takes a familiar concept and twists something different into the heart of the story. The book has a chill sense of dread with a protagonist who makes death his business, a supporting character who just can’t escape her past, and just when you thought it was a by the numbers murder mystery the antagonist bursts onto the scene and changes everything. The things you come to expect with the genre are all here, but they have to be explained in radically different ways. Something as simple as a lopped off hand seems to be the most important piece of the puzzle. The wonderfully morose idea of risking your life just to bill the survivors is just the beginning. “High Crimes” is something else.
Jude Tobin is a deeply tormented man who runs “Red Light Properties” with his wife. They cleanse haunted houses for sale. It’s not easy. Jude uses psychedelic drugs to enter the world of the undead in an effort to communicate. Through these efforts he’s started to lose his grip on reality. His marriage is failing, his business is going belly up, and he has lost touch with his son. This all amidst the sun drenched backdrop of Florida. Dan Goldman’s ambitious comic is truly a sight to behold. Using a combination of various assets he manages to elevate the form of creator owned comics. This is a book that cannot be missed, the art is incredible, the story is chilling, and the horror is very real. It’s incomparable in ambition, extraordinary in concept, and executed masterfully by a single mind. It’ll blow you away.